Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber Chart: Understanding the Differences

Dietary fiber is one of the crucial components of a healthy diet, and it plays an essential role in maintaining digestive health and overall well-being. It mainly comes from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and cereals and can be classified into two categories based on its solubility in water: soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. Incorporating both types into your dietary routine might help you achieve a balanced diet and optimize digestive health.

What is soluble fiber?

Soluble fiber is a type of dietary fiber that can absorb high quantities of water. It creates a viscous, gel-like texture in the digestive tract, which slows down the food transit time by delaying stomach emptying. This, in turn, can help control blood sugar levels and bind cholesterol from food, potentially reducing cholesterol levels. Due to these properties, soluble fiber might be recommended for individuals managing diabetes.

Soluble fiber-rich foods include oats, seeds such as psyllium husk, legumes, fruits, and berries.

What is insoluble fiber?

Insoluble fiber is another type of dietary fiber that does not dissolve in water, remaining intact as it moves through the digestive tract. It speeds up food passage through the digestive system and adds bulk to the stool. Consuming insoluble fiber may help maintain regular bowel movements and prevent constipation. Eating foods high in insoluble fiber may also help prevent digestive disorders such as diverticulitis (intestinal inflammation) and hemorrhoids.

Foods known for their high insoluble fiber content include whole grains like pasta or bread, nuts, and vegetables.

Soluble vs. insoluble fiber chart

Fiber supplements are indispensable in maintaining digestive health. It is important to incorporate both types of dietary fiber for a balanced diet.

While the daily recommendations might vary depending on age, it is suggested that adults consume approximately 30 grams of fiber, with 5–10 grams coming from soluble fiber. While there is no scientific evidence about the optimal ratio between insoluble and soluble fibers, one of the approaches suggests consuming 15 grams of insoluble fiber for every 5 grams of soluble fiber, which corresponds to a 3-to-1 ratio.

The chart below summarizes the essential information about both soluble and insoluble fiber. If you want to improve your digestive wellness and increase your dietary fiber intake, you might incorporate the fiber-rich foods provided in the chart.

Soluble fiberInsoluble fiber
How it worksSlows down food transit through the digestion process, allowing for better nutrient absorptionSpeeds up the passage of food and waste, promoting regular bowel movements
Recommended intake5–10 g per day as part of a balanced diet20–25 g per day, depending on individual dietary needs and health conditions
Health benefitsLowers blood glucose levels, which might contribute to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes

Potentially reduces blood cholesterol, which might help decrease heart disease risk

Increases the feeling of fullness, which might be helpful in weight management
Promotes regular bowel movements, preventing constipation

Might help prevent digestive disorders like diverticulitis and hemorrhoids

Could help maintain a normal intestinal pH
Fiber-rich foods (values per 100 g indicating total fiber content)Chia seeds, dried: 34.4 g

Pumpkin seeds, whole: 18.4 g

Navy beans, cooked: 10.4 g

Psyllium husk: 10 g

Figs, dried: 9.8 g

Dates: 8.0 g

Lentils, cooked: 7.9 g

Avocado: 6.8 g

Raspberries: 6.5 g

Chickpeas, canned: 6.4 g

Soybeans, cooked: 6 g

Blackberries: 5.3 g
Plain rye wafer crackers: 22.9 g

Wheat bran flakes ready-to-eat cereal, various: 16.9–18.3 g

Popcorn, air-popped: 14.5 g

Pistachios, roasted: 9.9 g

Hazelnuts or filberts: 9.7 g

Pecans, roasted: 9.5 g

Peanuts, roasted: 9.4 g

Artichokes: 8.6 g

Peas, cooked: 8.3 g

Bulgur, cooked: 4.5 g

Whole-wheat spaghetti, cooked: 4.5 g

How to incorporate fiber into your diet

You can take the following steps to incorporate dietary fiber into your nutrition plan:

  1. Check food labels. While shopping, choose foods with high fiber content (at least 5 grams per serving); opt for whole-grain bread, pasta, or cereal instead of regular more processed grain variations.
  2. Incorporate vegetables into every meal. Whether it's a sandwich, salad, or soup, aim to include vegetables to increase your fiber intake.
  3. Snack on fiber-rich foods. If you feel hungry between meals, aim to snack on raw vegetables or nuts. Carrots are a good source of fiber, and their sweetness can help satisfy your hunger.
  4. Choose whole fruits over juices. Select fruits that have a higher fiber content for more stable blood sugar levels compared to juice consumption.
  5. Begin your day with fiber. Aim to incorporate fiber-rich foods into your breakfast. Add grain cereals, oats, or flaxseed to your yogurt and combine it with some berries, bananas, or nuts.
  6. Stay hydrated. One cannot underestimate the importance of water. Drinking liquids does not directly increase fiber intake, but keeping hydrated while increasing fiber intake can help prevent constipation.

Final words on dietary fiber

Soluble and insoluble fibers are important to a balanced diet, contributing to overall well-being. While soluble fiber might help moderate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, insoluble fiber might promote regular bowel movements and avoid constipation.

Including both types of fiber from different sources, such as fruits, vegetables, or whole grains, might help you achieve a balanced diet tailored to your needs. It is advisable to start with incremental changes and gradually introduce fiber-rich foods to allow your body to adjust.

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